Feeling tired all the time? You're not alone. A huge 51% of you have lost your get-up-and-go, here's how to fix it...
Solution: Start saying ‘no’
‘In the past, psychologists referred to it as Type-A personality (a driven, high-achieving type), or the Zuckerman personality (a challenge junkie who craves adventure), says psychologist Dr Kristina Downing-Orr, author of Beating Chronic Fatigue. Now, were seeing women who are both, she says. Not only driven, they need amazing experiences to mention on Twitter, too.
Relentless pressure to meet new challenges without adequate down time leads to burnout, says Dr Downing-Orr. When faced with a new challenge, whether at work or socially, ask yourself, Can I do this? and Do I want to? If the answer isnt yes to both, you might be better recharging your batteries at home. If you cant say no, say let me think about it. That gives you time to decide whether youre really up for it, she advises.
Solution: Drink coconut water
‘Dehydration can make you listless, dizzy and nauseous, but many of us exist in a state of pre-dehydration,’ says Claire Harper, founder of thenutritionguide.co.uk.
‘Foods with a high salt content can leach moisture from your body. Add tea and coffee and you could be seriously lacking moisture.’ Telltale signs are poor concentration, dry skin or mouth and dark urine. ‘To work out how many litres of water you need, divide your weight in kilograms by 30,’ says Harper. ‘Your quota can also include herbal tea, diluted juices or coconut water, which contains electrolytes lost through sweat.’
Solution: Check your iron stores
Up to 91 percent pf UK women dont get enough iron. When a woman complains of tiredness, I first test for iron-deficiency anemia, says GP DR Chris Steele. Especially if she doesnt eat enough meat or dairy or has heavy periods. But this initial test may not be enough. If a haemoglobin test, which checks iron in the blood, is normal, but youre still tired, ask for a serum ferritin test to measure your ability to store iron, says Dr Steele. Also try Spatone supplement (£9.95, from Boots).
Solution: Get tested
Your thyroid produces the hormone thyroxine, which controls metabolism and energy. If it produces too little you feel fatigued, might gain weight and experience mood swings. Dr Steel says: ‘If your GP has done a thyroid hormone blood test and it’s normal, ask for further tests to measure your thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). You can then ask for a ‘therapeutic trial’ of thyroid medication- a synthetic form of thyroxine hormone- and you should feel an increase in energy within a month.’
Solution: Make a date with nature
Simultaneously reading your email, chatting on the phone and doing bottom firming exercises at your desk isnt necessarily productive. Multitasking over stimulates the brains dopamine system, says Professor Paul Gilbert, consultant psychologist and author of The Compassionate Mind (£9.99, Constable & Robinson).
Dopamine is a chemical linked to rewards, drive and vitality and is easily depleted. When stores are low, this can lead to listlessness and depression, he explains. Professor Gilbert suggests balancing dopamine release by stimulating your endorphin system the positive emotional pathway in the brain responsible for well-being. Try gentle activities such as gardening, hiking or meditation.
Solution: Have a tech-curfew
Social networking via Facebook, Twitter et al is a fact of life. But do it too late at night and you may end up in bed staring at the ceiling. ‘Flashing images from laptops and phone screens used close to bedtime can disrupt sleep,’ syas consultant psychologist Dr Anna Collins. ‘It keeps you in constant alert mode and the flashing lights effect melatonin, the hormone produced in darkness that triggers drowsiness.’ There’s a simple solution. ‘The worst effects are in the hour before bed, so turn down the lights and switch off your phone and laptop and you might find it easier to fall asleep,’ says Dr Collins.
Solution: Move the phone
Sleeplessness and tiredness can be symptoms of electrical sensitivity, which some believe is caused by over-exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs). Sarah Wright from Wired child UK says: ‘Cordless phones, mobile phones and wireless hubs emit EMFs in the home which studies have shown affect the thyroid gland as well as melatonin production.’ The good news is that this can be easily recitified. ‘Not having your mobile phone, wireless hub or the base of your cordless phone in the bedroom lowers most EMF exposure,’ syas Nick Clough of Sensory Perspective.
Solution: Get a gut check
An estimated one in 100 Brits have coeliac disease, an autoimmune condition where the body is unable to tolerate gluten, a substance found in wheat, rye barley, oats and many processed foods. ‘It’s often associated with tummy issues, but many people have it without the gut problems, so they don’t make the connection between their tiredness and a gluten intolerance,’ says Dr Steel. ‘Undiagnosed coeliacs don’t absorb nutrients properly which can lead to infertility, fatigue and even osteoporosis.’ Ask your GP for a coeliac screen test.
Solution: Fail with style
Ever felt things would change once you bought that house or landed that job, only to find after it happened that you craved the next big thing? You may have performance addiction. ‘There are two types of achievement addicts,’ says Professor Gilbert. ‘Growth achievers do things for the love of doing them, while fear achievers work hard for fame, recognition and other people’s approval. The latter tend to burnout because they’re often perfectionists. When things go wrong, they beat themselves up, releasing stress hormones that deplete their energy.’ The antidote? ‘Stop being self-critical and imagine being your best friend,’ he says. ‘Build yourself up in the way you would a friend after a confidence knock and see your energy levels increase.’
Solution: Take Vitamin C
That relaxing post-work glass of vino can actually affect your sleep. Alcohol initially relaxes by heightening the brain chemical gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA), says nutritional therapist Charlotte Watts, founder of Lyslim.com. GABA is the bodys way of managing stress and tension, but if you repeatedly stimulate it with alcohol, the brain comes to rely on it, leaving you tense and unable to sleep. The answer? Have some alcohol-free nights each week, says Watts. Take 1,000mg of vitamin C a day to curb cravings and milk thistle to detoxify the liver. Try Viridian 100% Organic Milk Thistle Tincture, £7.70, nutricentre.com.
Solution: Take ten
Sleep researchers at the University of California found the optimal amount of sleep for women is between six-and-a-half and seven-and-a-half hours a night. But if lack of sleep is taking its toll, Alexander Technique teacher Noel Kingsley suggests this daily energising exercise: ‘Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor and head resting on two or three books. Place your hands on your tummy, elbows on the floor while breathing gently for 10 minutes.’
Solution: Eat some garlic
‘An overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut can lead to candida, which causes tiredness and recurrent thrush,’ says Claire Harper. ‘Prevent candida by including anti-fungal foods in your diet, especially garlic and onion. Also add prebiotics like leeks, asparagus and natural bio-yogurt.’